PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2013 – Mixed Martial Arts Awards Part I

PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2013 – Mixed Martial Arts Awards Part I

By Christopher Jester and Dave Carpinello

 

 
PDG-MMA-AWARDS-2013
 

 

There were numerous story lines that came out of the year of 2013 in the world of mixed martial arts: Georges St-Pierre quasi-retirement, Chris Weidman knocking out Anderson Silva, and these were just some of the few that held the public’s attention. But then there was even the strange. A transgender fighter made headlines, top contenders Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami was surprisingly cut from the UFC.  Even women took center stage in the UFC and headlined a pay-per-view; it was just that sort of year. Below is Part I featuring the best KOs, male fighter awards and the best events of 2013, presented exclusively by PunchDrunkGamer.com.

 

 

 

Male MMA Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Chris-Weidman-2

 

Chris Weidman

2013 Record: 2-0 (1 KO, 1 TKO)

2013 Victim: Anderson Silva (2X)

Accomplishment: Crowned UFC Middleweight Champion

 

What a year this guy has had. When Chris Weidman knocked out Mark Munoz in 2012, the Weidman campaign began. Many fans wanted to see him take on the guy who had ruled the middleweight division for years. But very few thought he had a chance to take down Anderson Silva. Even more would have been flat out lying if they said Chris Weidman would win by knockout.

 

Yet, that is exactly what he did. Chris Weidman went into their first match-up with a confidence unexpected for a guy who was such an underdog. Even with that very well the case, Weidman stood in front of the man who was being deemed as the greatest of all time and shocked the world with a stunning KO. But there was only one thing – the fans were sure that this was either rigged or Silva did not take the fight seriously enough.

 

So, when the UFC made the inevitable rematch, there was little surprise that Weidman was still the underdog. However, it took very little time in their second outing for Weidman to prove that the first fight was no fluke. He controlled the bout very much the same. In fact, he had Silva badly hurt in the first round from a punch in the clinch. His ground and pound could have stopped the fight, but Anderson Silva was given the benefit of the doubt. Although the fight ended by a grisly and gruesome leg injury suffered by Anderson Silva, Weidman’s leg-kick check called “the Devastation” helped him defeat Anderson Silva for a second time and he is now reigning proudly as the UFC Middleweight Champion.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: John Dodson, John Moraga, Joseph Benavidez

Accomplishments: Defended UFC Flyweight Championship three times, Fight of the Night honors (vs. Dodson), Submission of the Night Honors (vs. Moraga), Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Benavidez)

 

“The California Kid” Urijah Faber

2013 Record: 4-0 (3 submissions, 1 decision)

2013 Victims: Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara, Michael McDonald

Accomplishments: Submission of the Night (vs. McDonald), Rewarded UFC Bantamweight title shot in 2014

 

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort

2013 Record: 3-0 (1 TKO, 2 KO)

2013 Victims: Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson

Accomplishments: 3 knockout of the night awards, earned UFC Middleweight title shot

 

Travis “Hapa” Browne

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett

Accomplishments: 3 Knockout of the Night Awards

 

 

 

2013 Knockout of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Shogun-knockout-Te-Huna

 

Mauricio Rua def. James Te Huna via Knockout Round 1 (UFC Fight Night 33)

 

Coming off a submission loss to Chael Sonnen, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was being written off as washed up. Then against the tough heavy-hitting prospect in James Te Huna, many thought that the Shogun that fought Brandon Vera would show up. Wrong! Te Huna looked to apply the pressure on Rua early on with an uppercut, but was nearly beheaded with a stiff left hook from Rua. Not even a second later, Te Huna hit the mat like he got blasted with a shotgun. And in that instant, the Shogun from the PRIDE days returned with a scorching knockout!

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva via punches – UFC 162 (July 6)

Antonio Silva def. Alistair Overeem via punches – UFC 156 (February 2)

Emanuel Newton def. Muhammed Lawal via spinning backfist – Bellator 90 (February 21)

Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez via punches – UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez (December 14)

 

 

 

2013 Event of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-UFC-on-FOX-6

 

UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs. Dodson (January 26)

 

It was the second UFC bout of the year, and it did not disappoint. The main event saw Demetrious Johnson defend his title against Jon Dodson, and it was probably one of the more fast-paced UFC bouts in history. Johnson used his blitzing speed to stay on the outside to avoid the power punches of Jon Dodson. But what made this bout so interesting was that this the first time fans got to see someone nearly match the speed of the flyweight champion. It paid off in the second round where Dodson dropped Johnson on more than one occasion. When things looked they were beginning to turn in the favor of Dodson, Johnson began to wear down Dodson by testing his cardio. Johnson was able to apply enough pressure in the later rounds to steal away the victory and retain his UFC Flyweight Championship.

 

The co-main event was the swan song for Quintin “Rampage” Jackson in the UFC, but was the coming out party for Glover Teixeira. The anticipated match-up demonstrated why so much hype had been on Teixeira as he was able to control Rampage throughout the bout with power punches and takedowns. Uppercuts and wrestling were the keys to victory for Teixeira, and he was able to validate why he was the biggest prospect at 205lbs.

 

In other notable bouts, Anthony Pettis body kicked Donald Cerrone into oblivion to win Knockout of the Night honors that eventually established him as #1 contender. Ricardo Lamas proved he was one of the most legitimate threats to Jose Aldo’s featherweight title. TJ Grant reinvigorated himself as a knockout artist against Matt Wiman, and Shawn Jordan turned off the lights of Mike Russow.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman (July 6)

Notable Bouts: Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva (c). Frankie Edgar def. Charles Oliveira. Cub Swanson def. Dennis Siver. Mark Munoz def. Tim Boetsch. Gabriel Gonzaga def. Dave Herman. Edson Barboza def. Rafaello Oliveira.

 

UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3 (October 19)

Notable Bouts: Cain Velasquez (c) def. Junior Dos Santos. Gilbert Melendez def. Diego Sanchez. Daniel Cormier def. Roy Nelson. John Dodson def. Darrell Montague. Hector Lombard def. Nate Marquadt.

 

UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann (March 3)

Notable Bouts: Wanderlei Silva def. Brian Stann. Mark Hunt def. Stefan Struve. Diego Sanchez def. Takanori Gomi. Hyun Gyu Lim def. Marcelo Guimaraes.

 

Bellator 106 (November 2)

Notable Bouts: Eddie Alvarez def. Michael Chandler (c). Daniel Straus def. Pat Curran (c). Emanuel Newton def. Muhammed Lawal.

 

Bellator 85 (January 17)

Notable Bouts: Michael Chandler (c) def. Rick Hawn, Pat Curran (c) def. Patricio Freire. Mikhail Zayats def. Renato Sobral. Jacob Noe def. Seth Petruzelli.

 

 

 

Heavyweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Travis-Browne

 

Travis Browne

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett

Accomplishments: Knockout of the Night Honors (three times)

 

A loss can sometimes resurrect your career, and it did so with Travis Browne. Browne came into 2013 wanting to prove that his lone loss was a simple mistake. Ironically, that loss to Antonio Silva in 2012 nearly destroyed his image. People were writing him off, and make it seem like his journey to the top of the heavyweight division was a fluke. Boy, were they wrong.

 

Gabriel Gonzaga learned the hard way. When Gonzaga attempted to take Browne down, Travis landed several skull shattering elbows that put the Brazilian to sleep. In his next bout, he faced Alistair Overeem and was again assumed to be just a victim. Wrong again. Although he suffered a beating in the first half of the first round, he shocked everyone with a front kick that stunned Overeem and Browne finished the bout with thunderous punches. Oddly enough, Browne ended his year just as he began it. Josh Barnett shot for a takedown against the cage, but it was Browne’s thumping elbows to the side of Barnett’s head that ended the fight. Browne instantly became a surefire contender in the heavyweight division, making him the most prominent heavyweight of 2013.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Daniel Cormier

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Dion Staring, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson

 

Cain Velasquez

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Antonio Silva, Junior Dos Santos

Accomplishments: Defended UFC Heavyweight title (2x)

 

Vitaly Minakov

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Ron Sparks, Ryan Martinez, Alexander Volkov

Accomplishments: Won Bellator 2013 Summer Series Heavyweight Tournament, Won Bellator Heavyweight Championship

 

 

 

Light-Heavyweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Glover-Teixeira

 

Glover Teixeira

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Quinton Jackson, James Te Huna, Ryan Bader

Accomplishments: Earned Submission of the Night Honor (vs. James Te Huna), Earned Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Bader). Earned 2014 title light-heavyweight title shot

 

He was already being pumped up as the biggest prospect in the light-heavyweight division. People who had seen this guy perform always mentioned that he could be a UFC champion someday. Any naysayers just needed to see him in the Octagon to see his true potential. Glover Teixeira has all the right ingredients to be a future title holder, and this year was the sort of crusade he needed to get that title shot.

 

He was probably most impressive in his defeat of Quinton Jackson. He was able to implement his gameplan flawlessly by shooting underneath Rampage’s power punches and nullifying the veteran with takedowns. The James Te Huna battle went perfectly for Teixera as he scored the submission, but it was the Ryan Bader bout that showed that Teixeira is always dangerous. Even after Ryan Bader had Teixeira hurt and wobbly, Teixera landed a powerful shot that sent Bader crashing into the canvas. It was that comeback victory that earned Glover Teixeira a shot at Jon Jones in 2014 for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Jon “Bones” Jones

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson

Accomplishments: Defended the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship (2x), Won Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Alexander Gustafsson)

 

Emanuel Newton

2013 Record: 4-0

2013 Victims: Atanas Djambazov, Muhammed Lawal (twice), Mikhail Zayats

Accomplishments: Won Bellator Season 8 Light-Heavyweight Tournament, Won the Interim Bellator Light-Heavyweight Championship

 

Phil Davis

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Vinny Magalhaes, Lyoto Machida

 

 

 

Middleweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Chris-Weidman-1

 

Chris Weidman

2013 Record: 2-0 (1 KO, 1 TKO)

2013 Victim: Anderson Silva (2x)

Accomplishment: Crowned UFC Middleweight Champion

 

Chris Weidman seemed a bit unsuitable as a middleweight contender before knocking out Mark Munoz last year. Yet, he trusted and believed in his skills enough to throw his name into the conversation as the guy who could and would beat Anderson Silva. Everyone just assumed he was missing a few screws to actually want to fight Anderson Silva. Little did we know that Weidman was our next middleweight champion.

 

Weidman did exactly what he said he was going to do on that historical Fourth of July weekend. Regardless of Silva’s clowning around, Weidman knocked the champion out to become the first new UFC Middleweight Champion in seven years. It was the Upset of the Year. Weidman had so much faith in his abilities that he was willing and ready to give Silva another crack at the title. Reality sunk in that Weidman was the real deal when he controlled the former champion once again. The fight may have ended badly for Silva, but the rematch was basically a demonstration that the first fight was no fluke. Weidman was serious and his reign as middleweight champion could be a long one.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Vitor Belfort

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson

Accomplishments: Knockout of the Night Honors (three times), Earned UFC Middleweight title shot

 

Tim Kennedy

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Trevor Smith, Roger Gracie, Rafael Natal

Accomplishments: Earned Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Natal)

 

‘Jacare’ Souza

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Ed Herman, Chris Camozzi, Yushin Okami

Accomplishments: Earned Submission of the Night Honors (vs. Camozzi)

 

 

 

Welterweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Robbie-Lawler

 

Robbie Lawler

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker, Rory MacDonald

Accomplishment: Earned Knockout of the Night (vs. Koscheck)

 

Inconsistent is a word that often described Lawler throughout his career. But in 2013, he strung together three victories that placed him at the top of the heat in the UFC’s 170lbs division. Returning to the UFC after his stint in Strikeforce, Lawler was expected to flunk out similarly to how he had before. His first fight against Koscheck, where he earned a stunning KO, proved that he was ready to turn his career around.

 

Maturity and raw talent was the keys to his victories in 2013. Lawler put those together in his beating of Bobby Voelker. It proved helpful in his hard-fought battle against Rory MacDonald, where he was able to muster up enough strength to steal a decision victory. With Georges St-Pierre vacating his title, Lawler earned a shot at the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship against Johny Hendricks in 2014.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Georges St. Pierre

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks

Accomplishment: Defended UFC Welterweight Championship twice, Earned Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Hendricks)

 

Matt Brown

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Jordan Mein, Mike Pyle

Accomplishment: Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Mein), Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Pyle)

 

Ben Askren

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Karl Amoussou, Andrey Koreshkov

Accomplishment: Defended Bellator Welterweight Championship (2x)

 

 

 

Lightweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Anthony-Pettis

 

Anthony Pettis

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson

Accomplishment: Won the UFC Lightweight Title

 

It was a long journey to a UFC title, but Anthony Pettis finally got there in 2013. It was not without its own controversy, however. In his first bout of 2013, Pettis crushed Donald Cerrone with body kicks. It was enough to put Pettis in title contention talks. But not for the lightweight title. It was for Jose Aldo’s featherweight belt.

 

Unexpected injury took Pettis out of the bout against Aldo. Instead, he found himself back in title contention back in his natural weight class of lightweight. As the last man to defeat Benson Henderson, Pettis had a confidence edge in this battle. It paid off dividends in the end, as he was able to snatch an armbar to score the victory and become the UFC Lightweight Champion.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

TJ Grant

2013 Record: 2-0

Victims: Matt Wiman, Gray Maynard

Accomplishments: Became UFC Lightweight #1 Contender, Won Knockout of the Night (vs. Maynard)

 

Khabib Nurmagomedov

2013 Record: 3-0

2012 Victims: Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy

 

Justin Gaethje

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Gesias Cavalcante, Brian Cobb, Dan Lauzon

Accomplishment: Earned World Series of Fighting Lightweight title shot

 

 

 

Featherweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Jose-Aldo

 

Jose Aldo

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Frankie Edgar, Chan Sung Jung

Accomplishment: Defended UFC Featherweight Championship (2x), Earned Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Edgar)

 

He may not have competed that much in 2013, but Jose Aldo had one of the more significant fights in recent memory. Aldo was a part of one of the proposed superfights. Frankie Edgar was dropping down in weight to take on the featherweight champion. It turned out to be one of the more memorable fights of 2013 as Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar dueled in a five round championship match that had Aldo scoring the victory. If Aldo was not solidified as the featherweight king before then, he definitely was now and he was moving up the pound-4-pound rankings after this exciting success.

 

His second bout saw Aldo putting together a new gameplan on the fly against Chan Sung Jung. Aldo suffered a foot injury in the first round against The Korean Zombie, but was able to mix in takedowns instead of his patented leg kicks. In the fourth round, Aldo was able to finish the bout after Jung suffered a shoulder injury. What was surprising about this bout was how masterful Aldo’s performance was even after injuring his foot. Aldo continued to raise his stock in 2013 due to a pair of performances that showcased his talent and his maturity as a fighter.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Chad Mendes

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Darren Elkins, Clay Guida, Nik Lentz

Accomplishment: Knockout of the Night (vs. Guida)

 

Cub Swanson

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Dustin Poirier, Dennis Siver

Accomplishment: Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Siver)

 

Dennis Bermudez

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Matt Grice, Max Holloway, Steven Siler

Accomplishments: Earned Fight of the Night Honors (vs. Grice)

 

 

 

Bantamweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Renan-Barao

 

Renan Barao

2013 Record: 2-0

2013 Victims: Michael McDonald, Eddie Wineland

Accomplishments: Defended the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship (2x), Earned Submission of the Night Honors (vs. Michael McDonald). Earned Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Wineland)

 

The bantamweight division seemed to be on hold since the injury to UFC Bantamweight Dominick Cruz. But you would not think so at how Renan Barao has been performing. He has sailed into each bout as confident as the real champion. Just the interim champion for the bantamweight division, Barao had a target on his back as he stood at the top of the division.

 

McDonald was the young star who had momentum on his side particularly with all the finishes that took him to contention. However, Barao held back the storm and finished the young prospect in the fourth round via arm-triangle choke. Eddie Wineland appeared as the tougher challenge as he was able to put together an interesting and competitive first round. The surprise came in the second round when Barao pulled together a spinning back kick and finished the bout with punches. He became the first and only man to defend an interim title twice in UFC history.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

“The California Kid” Urijah Faber

2013 Record: 4-0 (3 submissions, 1 decision)

2013 Victims: Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara, Michael McDonald

Accomplishments: Submission of the Night (vs. McDonald), Rewarded UFC Bantamweight title shot in 2014

 

Shinya Aoki

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Kotetsu Boku, Cody Stevens, Toshikatsu Harada

Accomplishment: Won the ONE FC Lightweight Title

 

Marlon Moraes

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Tyson Nam, Brandon Hempleman, Carson Beebe

 

 

 

Flyweight – Fighter of the Year

 

PDG-mma-awards-2013-Demetrious-Johnson

 

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: John Dodson, John Moraga, Joseph Benavidez

Accomplishments: Defended UFC Flyweight Championship (3x), Fight of the Night honors (vs. Dodson), Submission of the Night Honors (vs. Moraga), Knockout of the Night Honors (vs. Benavidez)

 

No one other than Chris Weidman had a year better than Demetrious Johnson. The first UFC Flyweight Champion was finally at the weight class he was destined for, and he proved it greatly throughout the entire year. Fighting three times, Johnson improved from fight to fight with the one goal in mind: get better and finish fights. His first outing was a tough challenge as he fought someone in John Dodson who had the speed to match him. Johnson was knocked down several times in the first two rounds, but found the heart to pull off a comeback for the ages.

 

The unheralded John Moraga was his second challenger in 2013, and Johnson was able to use his speed and masterful takedowns to keep the fight in his world. However what could have been an uninspiring cruise to the finish line, Johnson instead went for an armbar submission and won the bout. The inevitable second match-up between Johnson and Joseph Benavidez finally took place on December 14. The unexpected outcome? Johnson finished the fight in the first round via knockout. No one redefined what people expected of them more than Johnson. The typical grinder finished his last two fights and remained a dominant UFC Flyweight champion.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Ali Bagautinov

2013 Record: 3-0

2013 Victims: Seiji Ozuka, Marcos Vinicius, Tim Elliott

Accomplishments: Defended Fight Nights Flyweight Championship (vs. Ozuka)

 

Zach Makovsky

2013 Record: 3-0

Victims: Claudito Ledesma, Matt Manzanares, Scott Jorgensen

Accomplishments: Won RFA Flyweight Championship (vs. Manzanares)

 

 

 

* Click HERE for Part II of PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2013 – Mixed Martial Arts Awards.

 

 

Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka

 

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